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Interview : Virupaksha director Karthik Dandu – I went into coma when Sai Tej met with bike accident
Published on Apr 26, 2023 7:00 am IST

Young director Karthik Varma Dandu has scored a huge hit with his recently released supernatural thriller, Virupaksha. Produced by BVSN Prasad and Sukumar, the film has turned out to be the biggest hit in hero Sai Tej’s career. Karthik Varma today met with the media to share his happiness over the film’s success. Here is an excerpt from the interview:

What was the story behind Virupaksha’s origination?

I am a big fan of the horror genre. But I noticed a few years ago that only horror comedies were being made those days, and it prompted me to make an out-and-out horror film. It was around 2016-17 when I read a newspaper article about a Gujarati woman who was stoned to death, as people suspected that she was a witch who was doing black magic on villagers. I thought if she really knew black magic, she could have easily killed her killers. That’s when I decided to write Virupaksha’s story. As you can see, there is no ghost in the movie, but only a constant feeling of its presence.


What was Sukumar’s reaction after watching the movie?

Sukumar sir called me last night. He is very happy and proud. In fact, he was the only person who believed in me when no one believed in me or my script. He felt that Virupaksha needed a bigger canvas and he only got producer BVSN Prasad and Sai Tej on board.


What were the changes suggested by Sukumar?

Before I went to Sukumar sir, I wrote Virupaksha with a very small canvas. But, after meeting Sukumar sir, we wrote at least 6, 7 screenplay versions. Even though the main story was never changed, we kept improving the treatment. And it was Sukumar sir who had suggested the thrills in the climax, which the audiences are going gaga over. He also suggested the unique murder scenes in the movie.


How could you handle Virupaksha not like a debutant, but as an experienced director?

Contrary to the general perception, Virupaksha is not my debut movie. I had directed Bham Bholenath which released in 2015. Even though I had proved myself as a director, the film was not a commercial success. I had also worked as a writer for Nikhil’s Karthikeya.


Whose idea was it to cast Samyuktha Menon for Nandini’s role?

It was my idea. I felt that we needed an actress who was just 1, 2 movies old to play Nandini. We believed in her performance and she has done complete justice to her role. One of my ADs had chosen Ravi after he performed well in the auditions.


What was the idea behind the names Virupaksha, Nandini and Rudravanam?

Virupaksha and Rudravanam are related to Lord Shiva and his vehicle’s name is Nandi, which inspired us to come up with Nandini’s character. We named the hero as Surya, as he brings out the village from darkness into light.


What was your state of mind during Sai Tej’s bike accident?

My first film didn’t run well. So I was determined to prove myself as a writer and director with this movie. But no producer trusted me or my script until Sukumar sir came on board in 2018. And when we were all set for filming, Covid came as a major hurdle. When everything got settled, our team had met just a day before the first schedule. That’s when we came to know that our hero had met with a bike accident. Sai Tej was in hospital for 22 days. Even though I was out physically, it was almost like I went into coma during that period. I became normal only after I heard that Sai Tej was safe and doing fine. We utilized the free time to better the script and even prepared a complete storyboard of the script.


How was it working with Sai Tej post his accident?

We had first planned a 3-day schedule. Sai Tej was very weak initially and also looked very lean. That schedule wasn’t easy for him. He saw the rushes and then underwent speech therapy and dance classes before we commenced the second schedule. Things fell in place smoothly thereafter.


What are your future projects?

I have 2, 3 ideas. During our journey, me and Sukumar sir had discussed an interesting idea. He is quite impressed with it. Horror and thriller genres are my biggest strengths. Dil Raju garu and a few other producers called me after Virupaksha’s release. But I haven’t committed to any project yet.

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